A good friend of mine recently had some feedback from her company, that to progress her career further she had to ‘demonstrate leading at a higher level.’
This type of ambiguous feedback isn’t particularly useful to anyone. However, it did pose a question that is worth considering… ‘What is leading at a higher level?’
Having given this some deliberation, I still don’t know the meaning of my friend’s feedback! However I do know what I hope it means:
Helping people achieve their own potential and meaningful goals.
It might be controversial, but making money is not a worthwhile goal… However it is a by-product of leading well!!
Those leaders that lead with a meaningful purpose, those that lead to make the world a better place, make significantly more profit than those who just want to make a quick buck. Think about Steve Jobbs… he wanted to put a ding in the universe… or how about Bill Gates… he wanted to allow everyone affordable home computers. He didn’t even make computers!
Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others”
It sounds simple… focus on the positive and communicate a bright envisioned future. A higher level leader will make people feel valued and special.
This doesn’t mean lacking honesty… They are truthful about the current situation even if that situation is difficult. The difference is, that in that honesty they also give hope… they give a vision… they create togetherness and add value.
Your people are your business partners
When you lead at a higher level, you understand that your people will know things that you don’t. That they can support and help the leader.
Your people are everything… treat them like they are a business partner not an employee. It is a subtle change in mindset, but makes all the difference in creating the environment for your team to flourish.
Higher level leaders know that the combined intelligence of all of the team is much smarter than the single intelligence of the singular leader.
They know that their followers have deep knowledge and insight of the business they work in… they encourage, they listen and they trust.
I might not have been able to decipher the feedback my friend received, but the idea that leading at a higher level, being about chasing worthwhile goals, being a beacon of hope and treating your team as partners rather than employees, sounds like an inspiring vision of a leader to me.
That is what I imagine leading at a higher level is… Maybe it is worth a try?